Category Archives: Tractor

Saving water in a sizzling summer

Farming always has its ups and downs but this year has been particularly challenging. The winter snows were severe with the Beast from the East which meant a late spring, followed on by the current heatwave which is causing havoc with the harvests.

cows and sheepSunshine and heat is wonderful for our holiday guests staying in our log cabins and glamping pods, but not so great for the farm animals. June 2018 has been the driest on record. I can’t recall when I last saw the farm fields so brown and the grass is so dry it scrunches underneath your feet.

Making hay while the sun shines

hay making We usually make silage for winter forage for the cows and sheep and around 900 small bales of hay.  Hay making was interesting as the cut grass was so light and dry that half of it blew away! Whilst the sizzling sunshine has produced excellent quality hay, the excessive dry weather has meant the quantity is about half the usual yield at just 430 bales.

We are not alone and there will be a shortage of winter feed, compounded by the fact that farmers are having to feed their cattle and sheep now in midsummer as there is so little grass growing. It also means reduced income as the price of lamb has fallen due to an increase in supply as many farmers are having to sell their lambs early due to the lack of feed.

1967 Massey Ferguson 135 tractor
1967 Massey Ferguson 135 tractor

Whilst the scorching heat continues here in the Peak District with temperatures over 30 degrees we carry on farming with animal well fare a top priority.

Mike wrestles with a sheep

The sheep have been shorn and shed their winter woolly jumpers and we are keeping a special eye on the troughs to make sure the cattle have sufficient water to drink.

We also have a new member of the team. This week also saw the arrival of Havenfield Lotus, a new pedigree Hereford bull, who seemed right at home with his new ladies!

Use water wisely

water glas by RawpixelDid you know that only 3% of the world’s water is fresh and less than 1% of this fresh water is available for human use? The rest being frozen or located too deep within the earth for us to reach it.

Our Derbyshire ancestors have always celebrated the importance of fresh water by dressing the village wells and giving thanks.

Saving water is always important, but especially so whilst the sizzling summer continues.

Top ten tips for saving water
  1. When you wash your dishes by hand, remember to turn the tap off in-between rinsing. And don’t rinse dishes before you put them in a dishwasher – that’s what the machine is designed to do – just scrape all the excess food off the dishes and let the machine do the rest.
  2. Stop! Before pulling the plug out the kitchen sink, use the washing up water to rinse out bottles, food cartons and cans before putting them in the recycle bin.
  3. Switch off the tap whilst brushing your teeth – you can waste at least half a pint of water per minute if you leave the tap on!
  4. Keeping a large bottle of tap water in the fridge ensures you can have chilled water all the time. Waiting for the tap to run cold can waste more than 10 litres of water a day.
  5. A shower uses 2/3 the amount of water as a bath – keep it short and turn off the shower head while soaping! Every minute you spend in a power shower uses up to 17 litres of water .
  6. Switch to an efficient shower head which will allow you to lather up in less water
  7. Washing a full machine load of clothes uses less water and energy than 2 half-loads
  8. Modern dual-flush systems save huge amounts of water. They use just 6 litres – or 4 with a reduced flush – much less than the 13 litres for each old-style single flush.
  9. Or fit your toilet with a ‘hippo’, a bag (available free from your water company, usually) that could help you save up to 3.5 litres of water per flush.
  10. Drive round in a dirty car – you don’t need to wash it every week! A hose with the tap turned on full can use up to 320 litres of water in half an hour!

We hope you found our top ten water saving tips useful and would love to hear if you have some more ideas to share.


#Farm24 – What’s it all about?

What is #Farm24?

#Farm24 is our chance to showcase 24 hours of farming in the UK, from 5am this morning on August 10 until 5am on August 11 2017. By encouraging farmers to share what they are doing throughout the day with a live feed of pictures, videos, Facebook posts and Tweets the British people will have a greater understanding of how much passion and commitment goes into producing the food they eat.


Pleased to report that #farm24 is now trending on Twitter so hopefully our message is getting across! It gives a rare and honest, ‘behind-the-scenes’ insight of what goes into producing British food and a chance to celebrate the achievements of farmers from all sectors of British agriculture.

From our perspective

#Farm24 offers an opportunity to share our story with the wider public and raise awareness of the care and attention we take to raise our beef cattle and sheep and farm our Peak District landscape sustainably, harnessing the latest technology. We have a policy of #loveLocal and are delighted to share our special place with our holiday guests too.

she must be ready to drop her calf?

Here at Hoe Grange Farm we have been taking part in #Farm24 and recording some of the farming activities David has got up to today; from the early morning cockerel alarm clock, to , checking stock, calving a cow, pasture topping and repairing the many dry stone walls. There is always plenty to do and people often forget that maintaining the landscape is as important as caring for the animals.

Tractor pasture toppingFarming has never been considered an easy option; each day is different and you are at the mercy of the weather, seasons and needs of livestock, and the hours are long. Farming is a way of life which shapes the countryside, sustains rural communities and produces essential food for all.

solar panels and hensAt Hoe Grange we also harness the natural resources around us by using renewable technologies, including solar panels that track the sun, and a wind turbine to generate electricity. Modern farming is a business like any other that has to minimise overheads and reduce costs to remain competitive.

Welcome packWhilst farmer David is busy with the animals, farmer’s wife Felicity takes care of the holiday business, cleaning the log cabins and gorgeous glamping pods, baking biscuits, greeting guests and suggesting fabulous local places to visit, not to forget Tweeting along with the outside world! Hopefully everyone goes home with happy memories and a little wiser about modern farming.

Check us out on Twitter #Farm24 to see what we got up to today!


Glamping pods arrive!

Glamping pod arrives on lorryOur gorgeous glamping pods have arrived safely on site at Hoe Grange. Fortunately the weather has dried up and David was able to use the tractor and trailer to take the glamping pods up the field to lift them into place.

That’s the good thing about farmers – they are generally very practical people, and can turn their hand to anything – David with Sam’s help certainly made the whole thing look easy!

We thought you might like to see a few more photos of the building progress!

crane lifting glamping pod
Arrival of glamping pods

glamping pod installation Collage2 collage3
It’s so exciting to see the glamping pods finally in place after so much planning and preparation. Standing inside they are extremely spacious – the ensuite shower is larger than mine at home! The cosy pods are going to be a fabulous base for exploring the Peak District countryside and we look forward to welcoming the first holiday guests very shortly.


Glamping pod in place
Time for a well earned beer!


On the 20th August 2015 hundreds of British farmers recorded their day with video and photographs to help the general public understand how wide and varied the work of a British farmer is.

What were we up to at Hoe Grange that day?

Take a look at our #farm24 and see!

Checking all are present and correct……

and all are with their mummies….

even if their mummies are not really their mummies.

Time then for a little tractor work, mowing off the overgrown grass so fresh grass can grow in its place.

Keep calm and canter onNot forgetting to look after our guests as well, pointing out the best rides.

See the nationwide effort of our dedicated farmers recorded for #farm24 through The Farmers Guardian. Alternatively, find out more about our very own Peak District farm here.


So much snow!

Derbyshire has been particularly hard hit with the recent bad weather. The large overnight snowfall of last Friday has been made worse by the terrific winds which have sculpted the snow into huge drifts which have blocked roads and made feeding and looking after the farm animals a trial.

It is quite bizarre as the middle of the fields are slightly green with tufts of grass poking through the thin white blanket, yet the wall sides are piled high with snow that will take some shifting when the sun finally reappears.

extreme snow drifts at Hoe Grange
Snow drifts piled high

Digging out the drive
Daily chore of digging out the snow

David has spent several hours a day digging out the drive with the 4×4 tractor, only for it to blow back in within minutes. The Peak District hasn’t been so hard hit for a long time, although David’s mother has many tales of taking the heavy milk churns by tractor through the snow to be picked up at the end of the lane.

Our holiday guests have been unable to venture out by car as so many of the local roads are blocked, but have had fun walking through the snow drifts up on the High Peak Trail.

Fortunately our log cabins are cosy and warm, so everyone is happy to chill out and make the most of the unusual circumstances.  Having an off-road car has been invaluable as we were able to do a shopping run for emergency rations for everyone – basic, sensible supplies for guests, chocolate for David and beer for Roger our resident watercolour artist! Roger will definitely be painting snow scenes this week.

I have got a hen sitting on 4 Buff Orpington eggs and am anxiously waiting for them to hatch today, but obviously the extreme cold could spell disaster. Elliot’s sheep are also due to lamb in the next few days, so it will be a cold and chilly start for the new arrivals at Hoe Grange Farm this Spring – strange when you think that this time last year we were in the middle of a Mediterranean heat wave!


stuck in snow
Not going anywhere!

sheep in snow at Hoe Grange
Hungry sheep waiting for their hay

Snow drifts on trail
Deep drifts up on High Peak Trail


Play ground
Play ground

Especially for our younger guests visiting us in the Derbyshire Peak district we have now installed a magical fort to play in, complete with slide for emergency evacuation. So if the Indians get to close or tea is ready, you can be down on the ground in seconds, and with the wooden tractor on hand you can make a quick get away.

But the children are not the only ones playing this week. Our Gloucester Old spot piggys Pinky, Perky, Pepper and Pumba have been exploring the great outdoors and having great fun rooting around in the grass. Truly free range so they will taste even better…

pigs having fun
pigs having fun


Lands End reached

The boys on their epic charity tractor drive have reached Land End today, then immediately headed north for John o’Groats.

After a bit of a false start and a few technical difficulties the little grey Fergie is now running well and hitting speeds of up to 14mph. With 874 mile to the northern most point in the UK  they will be travelling for a while yet.

Heading for Lands End
Heading for Lands End

You can follow them on, and by means of a satellite tracker donated by Skytag you can see on the map just where they have got to.

Don’t forget to hit that Donate button if you think they deserve a little encouragement, and help them to ‘Help the Heros’


The boys enjoying a well earned break at Land’s End

Who’s got a lot of work to do???????

A while ago we told you of our son and his friends who are planning an epic charity tractor drive the length and breadth of the country, some 2000 miles in total, on a 70 year old Massey Ferguson TE20.

The Tractor they originally planned to use fell through, so they found another one recently bought by a friend for £25!! This is taking them a lot more work than originally planned to get the tractor roadworthy ready for the trip.

In the last 3 weeks they have completely stripped it down , rebuilt the engine, replaced bearings, checked gearboxes, renewed brakes and resprayed lots of bits.
It is quite a project for them to undertake, and the end is nearly in sight.

Little grey Fergie, Nearly Finished???
Little grey Fergie, Nearly Finished???

You can watch the boys hard at work on thier youtube channel

Episode 5 at about 4.30 minutes is classic.

Check out thier website

The target is to raise £10,000 and they have already passed £2,000

Dont forget to donate at and help them to Help The Heros


More Tractor Tales

The first guest with children since our new playground tractor was installed had a great time playing at being Farmer Brown, driving the wooden Massey Ferguson for hours at a time. This is something our eldest son Michael will know a lot about by the end of the summer,  although his tractor will not be made of wood!

Michael and a hand full of mates from Harper Adams University in Shropshire are to undertake a mammoth charity tractor drive, from Dover Castle in Kent to Lands End in Cornwall to John ‘O Groats, Scotland and then back to Coventry, the headquarters of Agco, home of the Massey Ferguson empire. A journey of some 2000 miles!

Not a particularly difficult task you might think… but the tractor they have chosen is no speed machine, with air conditioning, suspension, and all mod cons, but a 70 year old ‘Little Grey Fergie’ with a top speed of just 10mph – no cab and certainly no creature comforts!! The old girl will be accompanied by a brand new version in the more recognisable Massey Ferguson red.

The Old....
The old…

...and the new
and the new with the team

The boys are aiming to raise in excess of £10,000 for Help the Heroes.

Check out their website and their Facebook page Grey Fergie Challenge


Please give generously for a good cause, they will certainly deserve it –  apparently it seemed like a good idea in the pub, but I’m not sure they realise quite how uncomfortable and slow this long journey will be! We will keep you updated with their progress.


A Tale of Two Tractors

David is following in the footsteps of his Great Grandfather, William Brown, by constructing a tractor for Hoe Grange. Although slightly different!

Tedding the hay with a Model T

Model T with mid mounted mower

Great Grandpa’s tractors were constructed in the 1930’s using Ford Model T cars as their base. Tractors were hard to come by and expensive, so these machines were cleverly adapted for various jobs around the farm from cultivating, and mowing to tedding or turning the hay.

William Brown was an amazing engineer who was ahead of his time and even suggested such radical ideas as introducing milk quotas, which eventually came in the late 1980’s. His ideas were published in the “Farmer and Stockbreeder” magazines of the time along with photographs of his magnificently adapted machines.

I like to think he would be proud of my little grey Fergie tractor – it is a lot simpler and a little smaller, but just as practical and suitably fit for it’s task! Our wooden play tractor is just the right size for our little guests, who want to play at being Farmer Brown whilst staying here on holiday in the fabulous Peak District countryside.

Come along and try it for size!

Who wants to be the first to ride our tractor?